Yesterday I graduated from Harrison Home Health
services; an organization I didn’t know existed two months ago and
where I learned firsthand that Kitsap County has
the greatest group of RN’s and
on this planet for medical home
My June 11, 2012 belly tumor operation at the University
of Washington was a rip roaring success, thanks to
surgeon, .Renata R. Urban, MD and her superb
Six days after the operation I returned home to husband and dogs
and into the caring, capable hands of the Harrison Home
Health services team.
The Harrison Home Health services team followed
doctor’s orders exactly – a team care RN or
LPN came every three days to change the dressing,
including weekends. The vacuum machine hooked to and inside
my belly became my best friend 24/7.
At 73, I am lucky to be alive. I’ve learned several health
lessons along the way since 1997 – the key one being to continue to
do whatever I can to promote early detection
Spirometry testing for COPD.(Chronic
Obstructive Pulmonary Disease) the third leading cause of
death behind heart disease and cancer.
Getting COPD for many of us means taking a
nosedive into the immune system and developing
other unpleasant medical conditions. COPD is slow
developing, taking about twenty years to develop symptoms enough to
tell your doctor. By then usually 50 % of the lungs have
flipped from the healthy state – they are destroyed.
The fact is I was a healthy physically fit person until I was
hospitalized with COPD in 1997. Since then I
have gathered one disease after another.
This latest – a fluid filled belly tumor squeezed my lungs
making it harder to breathe. It squeezed everything in its
path and seemed to shut down my system with a growing hard belly
and pain especially in my bone on bone left hip until I reluctantly
shuffled from place to place. I canceled and rescheduled doctor
appointments thinking the pain would ease with time.
As time passed and my ability to get around decreased, Chuck
called various agencies in Kitsap County thinking
Kitsap County must have public transportation with a lift available
for patients trying to get to medical appointments. The
problem was I could not lift my left leg to step up and couldn’t
use the right leg either – too painful on my left hip. I
could not lift it…only pull it after me.
We discovered one source in Kitsap but it would
cost us over $400. to drive around from
Poulsbo through Tacoma to the
University of Washington Medical Center for my
It felt like something was growing in my belly but the only
possibility was impossible so I shrugged it off to
imagination. I never imagined a tumor nor
mentioned it to my doctors.
Funny thing, a complete physical might well have discovered the
hard as a rock-growing belly and tumor, had I not sworn off getting
It was only when I tried to cancel and reschedule my third week
canceled appointment in a row with my pulmonologist,
Christopher Goss, MD at the University of
Washington Medical Center that I was told ”…couldn’t reschedule for
the foreseeable future…” ( the doctor was off to Europe the end of
I told my husband we had to make that appointment no matter what
happened because I didn’t think I could manage much longer.
We HAD to make that appointment and I asked him to get what I
thought would help get me into the Suburban.
It included tying a rope across the back of the front seats to
pull me into the back seat once I shuffled my way up the dog plank
and it should balance me into turning to sit down. The plank
was supported by the borrowed Poulsbo Wal-Mart
milk crates he placed underneath the plank.
I shuffled up the plank aided by my walking sticks but the rope
failed after I pulled myself inside and let go of one end.
The rope wasn’t tied off and I fell forward and twisted with my
neck strained across the top of the back seat.
As soon as I could talk, I asked Chuck to get in and drive
“We’re making my lung appointment…we’re going to Seattle and
ferries don’t wait.”
At the UW’s parking garage, Chuck ran to get a wheelchair and I
pulled myself out of the car and into the chair. He raced us
to my appointment on the third floor.
I told Dr. Goss about my hard belly and the
pain. Thank heavens he looked. When my hard belly
wouldn’t budge, Dr. Goss scheduled an x-ray and
blood testing. The x-ray showed up black and by the time
Chuck wheeled me out of the blood lab, Dr. Goss
was there and told us I had a room and that an
ultrasound was scheduled in a few hours..
Most medical folks are cool about letting me take photos and
allowing me to use them here once I explain about my purpose –
COPD and Other Stuff.
Its important that people understand that COPD
is only the beginning – an opening door to really nasty, painful
medical conditions that follow for too many of us.
Ask your doctor for an early detection Spirometry
COPD itself is a long slow smother – not
painful. Some of the medical Other Stuff can be really
Renata R. Urban, MD – Assistant
Department of Obstetrics & Gynecology – Division of
Seattle Cancer Care Alliance
Following are the photos Dr. Urban sent taken
during the operation.
Tumor weight: 1,881 grams
Tumor weight: 1,881 grams
Somehow, I thought of operations as messy and bloody – see the
The pain from the tumor and the 1.5 gallons of black fluid they
drained out twice had taken over my life.
The wonderful team of doctors – and their ability to verbalize
with patients was superb…
Great doctors and teamwork
Dr. Urban and team – thanks!
I think this was the pain medicine machine that was available to
me checked by a helpful nurse.
I had super docs with a great patient connection. The
gowns were worn by everyone who came into my room –
Molly Blackley Jackson, M.D. – Attending
Medicine Consult Service, Division of General Internal
Medicine. UW Medicine
Dr.Salahi will be a wonderful
Radiologist if patient rapport
matters. He did a super job of making me feel at ease during
an intensive pre-patient interview. I am glad for the
opportunity to meet him on his last day in Internal Medicine.
Dr. Jackson was a bright spirit this day and
every time she visited after the operation. She and the other
docs were incredibly verbal, friendly and informative…Just what
this patient would order.
Thanks for reading…Sharon.
Part 2 of 4 Next time… the machine that acts like
a sump pump was inserted into my belly and more ….